What are some quotes from Regret for the Past by Lu Xun?

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The narrator's partner, Zijun, begins the story as a strong and independent woman who cherishes her freedom of choice. She agrees to move in with her boyfriend, Juansheng, without marrying him first, a decision that will certainly displease her family and affect the rest of her life.

Juansheng is a...

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The narrator's partner, Zijun, begins the story as a strong and independent woman who cherishes her freedom of choice. She agrees to move in with her boyfriend, Juansheng, without marrying him first, a decision that will certainly displease her family and affect the rest of her life.

Juansheng is a fan of Nora Helmer, the main character from Henrik Ibsen's play A Doll's House, who learns to recognize her own oppression and eventually leaves her home and family in order to discover who she really is when not acting as a wife and mother. Zijun, responding to Juansheng's apparent feminism, tells him,

I am my own mistress. None of them has any right to interfere with me.

She resolutely declares her independence from men and from a society that might criticize or even condemn her for making such a rebellious choice as to live with a man outside of wedlock. As for Juansheng, at the time, he says that he

was unspeakably happy to know that Chinese women were not as hopeless as the pessimists made out, and that we should see them in the not too distant future in all their glory.

He is gratified with Zijun's independent spirit and believes that it bodes well for the future of women in China. However, he fails to understand how his own behavior will impact Zijun. When the two move in together, she is relegated to the role of a housewife, without actually being a wife (and acquiring the social approval that comes with the role). She begins to weaken as she becomes unhappy in her domestic role, and her personality begins to change; as a result, Juansheng grows disappointed with her and eventually falls out of love with her. When he loses his job, he is not really surprised, and he learns to see the situation as an opportunity rather than a setback. He feels that he

had lived like a wild bird in a cage, given just enough canary-seed by its captor to keep alive, but not to grow fat . . . Now, at any rate, I had got out of the cage, and must soar anew in the wide sky before it was too late, while I could still flap my wings.

Juansheng still has choices and opportunities, and he has the education needed to make a new start for himself. He sees himself as leaving a cage—Zijun, in contrast, has actually entered a sort of cage by shackling herself to a man. She must cook and clean, and her housework takes up so much of her day that she does not even have time for their chats or walks anymore. Juansheng does not see that he still has a kind of freedom and Zijun can never have: financial freedom, the ability to support himself.

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